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Mills Theory of LibertyIn outlining his theory on liberty Mill separates his discussion into twoclearly defined areas The first of the liberty of thought and discussiondeals with the freedom to articulate ones opinions the freedom toparticipate in intellectual political religious and general debates andarguments and the cognate freedom of the press The second of theliberty of action attempts to demarcate the area in which an individual isfree to act upon his will opinions and thoughts In both there is aconsistent attempt by Mill to impress upon his readers the manifestbenefits that would attend an atmosphere of liberty To Mill one can never be certain about the veracity or mendacity of acertain opinion or viewpoint Any assumption of complete certainty of thetruth or falsity of an opinion is an allusion to the infallibility of man Inaddition those who assume this and consequently stifle an opinionexclude all others from hearing that opinion thereby imposing their ownversion of certainty as opposed to absolute certainty on them ThusMill writes We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouringto stifle is a false opinion and if we were sure stifling it would be an evilstillOne obvious benefit from allowing an opinion to be expressed would bewhen that opinion turns out to be true Then the intrinsic value of thattruth is the reward of the person who allowed his own opinion to bechallenged But more importantly the gain is not confined to theindividuals involved in the debate society as a whole benefits from theexposure of a fallacy and the elucidation of a truth Less palpable are the benefits that can be obtained even if the opinion isfalse Firstly Mill believed even erroneous opinions contain a portion oftruth in them Since the dominant opinion rarely contains the whole truthMill believed that such a collision of hostile opinions would bring forththe rest or at least more of the truthHowever in rare cases the prevailing opinion might be
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